Future proof real estate: is the property sector ready for the 2020s?

Jul 18 • The British Pearl Team

Property is an industry that has been criticised for failing to use available technology to evolve. However, that is now changing according to this report from Osborne Clarke. The following is based on research sourced from 500 technology experts across Europe. Words marked with an asterisk* are defined at the end of the blog.

Technology moves fast and PropTech* companies need to be flexible and able to offer long-term benefits for the ever changing digital age. Experts believe that much of the technology being discussed today will be mainstream-ready by 2020/21: big data*, the internet of things (IoT)*, and 3D printing* first, followed by AI* and autonomous vehicles. The report states that 82% believe technology could contribute towards alleviating the housing crisis.

New PropTech companies such as British Pearl are making property investing more accessible and connecting developers to new sources of financing. Smart home* technology can appeal to all age groups. For people, young and old, lifestyles will be improved and the Private Rented Sector will be made more attractive than buying. On top of that, older generations can use it to monitor health and their security. The process of transacting property will be simplified and made more efficient bringing cost savings. A third of the experts believe VR* could impact the industry, e.g. viewings for overseas investors.

According to European technology experts:

- By 2020, big data, 3d printing and wearable devices* will be driving change within property.

- 81% believe the property industry is valuing the short-term expense of technology over its long-term benefits.

- 83% believe technology experts should be central to combining technology to the built environment.

- Occupiers, governments and property developers are holding back the creation of smart cities*, whilst technology giants, technology start-ups and universities are their main proponents.

- London is leading the way in Europe for PropTech for the next five years, followed by Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and Stockholm.

- The Dutch are most receptive to the impact of technology on logistics compared to France, Germany and the UK.

- 82% believe innovation can alleviate the housing crisis by utilisation of limited spaces, delivering cost effective housing as well as increasing densities of homes within key areas.

- Smart homes will assist build-to-rent homes become more popular with younger people, who will choose the privately rented sector over ownership. Smart homes will also be more attractive with older people moving into the rental sector after selling their home.

- Technology will save students money and time and have the greatest impact. VR viewings, energy saving and home management are likely to become more prominent.

- 76% believe technology giants will become the dominant landlords, due to technology enabling real-time pricing of offices, and overall satisfaction levels rising due to helpful technology which will cause price spikes.

- Big data, smart factories* and collaborative technology are more likely to help solve limited land availability.

If you would like to read the full report, ‘Future Proof Real Estate: Is the Property Sector Ready for the 2020s?’ by Osborne Clarke, click here.


3d Printing

Material is combined or solidified by a computer to create a three dimensional object.

AI - Artificial Intelligence

Intelligence demonstrated by machines. In reaction to their environment, machines take actions designed to meet the expected goal.

Big Data

Huge sets of data analysed with help from technology to unveil trends and patterns, especially to do with human behaviour.

Internet of Things

A network of electronically embedded devices in vehicles, home appliances and other items able to connect digitally. These items transfer data increasing integration.


A transformation of the traditional property industry. It involves both the mental and technological evolution of real estate and its users. The integration of property and technology focuses especially on transactions as well as attitudes towards property.

Smart City

A developed urban area that collects data electronically (e.g. with sensors) to manage assets efficiently.

Smart Factory

Traditional automation is being replaced by a digitally connected and adaptable system. It relies on real time data from different stages of production to learn and be flexible.

Smart Home

A house with a network of digitally connected devices that can be controlled remotely and monitored e.g. switching on the heating on the way home from work through your smartphone.

VR - Virtual Reality

The use of technology to simulate an environment, immersing a user inside a pre-designed experience usually with the help of goggles.

Wearable Devices

Technology worn on the human body e.g. fitbit.